Francis O' Toole Author – Careers Ireland

Students' embarking on their career journey – Is Féidir linn

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Working as a National Ambulance Service Paramedic
SPEAKER: Shane Mooney, Advanced Paramedic, HDip EMT, MSc EMS
DEFINITION OF CAREER AREA: Nationally Qualified Emergency Medical Technician –
Paramedic. Working on a frontline Accident and Emergency Ambulance for the Health
Service Executive, National Ambulance Service.
OPPORTUNITIES: The Health Service Executives National Ambulance Service (NAS) is the
main employer of Paramedics in the state. Dublin Fire Brigade also currently trains their
firefighters to Paramedic level. There are a number of private ambulance service
providers who also employ paramedics. Once qualified, there are a number of other
services that may employ paramedics including the Irish Coast Guard. The Irish
Paramedic and Advanced Paramedic standards are on a par with the UK and United
States standards and reciprocity with many ambulance services around the world could
be expected.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN A TYPICAL DAY? Paramedics usually work in teams of two and
are known as a ‘crew’. Their day-to-day duties involve checking the ambulance vehicle
to make sure it’s in working order, ensuring it’s clean and that all of the medical and
rescue equipment is working correctly. The main part of the job involves responding to
emergency calls. On arrival at the scene of an accident or illness, Paramedics assess the
situation and administer appropriate treatment to those who need it, before and during
the journey to hospital. At the hospital, the Paramedic gives medical staff an accurate
report of the patient’s condition and circumstances of the accident. They also have to
write patient reports and complete log sheets on each shift. Paramedics may also be
required to carry out inter-hospital transfers which involve transporting patients to
other hospitals that are better equipped to cater for their needs.
SKILLS USED IN THE JOB: Be able to work independently as well as part of a team.
Demonstrate the ability to cope under pressure, including the ability to diffuse difficult
situations in a calm and professional manner.
 Be able to assess patients and provide appropriate treatment in the pre hospital
phase of an acute medical or trauma emergency.
 Have tolerance and compassion especially in relation to providing a quality
service in difficult and sometimes harrowing and stressful situations.
 Have highly effective problem solving and decision making skills.
 Demonstrate Initiative and flexibility.
 Show effective communication and interpersonal skills including the ability to
influence others.
 Demonstrate capacity for rapid, intense and sustained effort
REWARDS AND SATISIFACTION: Working as a Paramedic allows you, as an individual, to
intervene at the scene of an emergency and make a difference immediately. Paramedics
are amongst only six Registered Health Professions in Ireland. The paramedic profession
is a relatively new one, and growth in terms of education and scope of practice has been
at an accelerated rate in the last five to ten years, and is likely to continue for some time
to come.
As a healthcare profession, paramedics operate to a level of autonomy and
responsibility enjoyed by only a few other professionals, in managing the emergency
patient. From maintaining the airway of an unresponsive patient to defibrillating a
victim of sudden cardiac death, to assisting at an emergency childbirth, no 2 calls are
ever the same. An ever increasing range of Clinical Practice Guidelines allow the
Paramedic to bring more and more interventions to the scene of an accident, most of
which were previously only available once the patient had reached hospital. Even the
more routine calls allow you to interact with people and make a positive difference to
their pathway through the health system.
ROUTES OF ENTRY: Presently you must be at least 21 years of age to enter the HSE
National Ambulance Service, as the service currently has a requirement for all
Paramedics to have both a C1 and D1 driving licence.
Some private Ambulance Service providers do not have this requirement. Entry to the
profession is normally achieved by gaining employment with the National Ambulance
Service. In the past and possibly again at some stage in the future, qualification may be
gained by applying to one of the recognised training institutions as a private student,
where you will fund the cost of training and then look for employment as a qualified
Paramedic. Qualification gained in another jurisdiction may be accepted by applying to
the Pre hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) who will adjudicate on all previous
TRAINING: Training takes place in one of 2 current recognised training institutions and
takes 10 months of initial training followed by a one year post graduate internship
The National Ambulance Service provides paramedic education through its own College,
in partnership with UCD. During the initial 10 months you will participate in a mixture of
class based learning, clinical placements in various clinical settings such as the
emergency, paediatrics and obstetrics department and a number of weeks as part of an
operational ambulance crew. You will also complete a one week driver training module
of the advanced driving programme.
Upon successful completion of a series of state (Pre hospital Emergency Care Council)
exams, you will qualify as a Paramedic Intern and then start operational work as part of
a two person ambulance crew with a training preceptor for a one year period. At that
stage you will be qualified as a National Qualified Paramedic, with a Diploma in
Emergency Medical Technology from UCD.
CAREER PATH: Promotional opportunities initially involve rising to the position of
Leading Paramedic (Paramedic Supervisor) where you have responsibility for the clinical
and operational supervision of staff and the management of an Ambulance Station as
well as the standard Paramedic duties.
Ambulance Officers have various regional roles and responsibilities such as Fleet,
Operations, Communications and Training and Development. Most Ambulance Officer
positions are filled from within the ranks of the service. A Number of positions at
Assistant Chief and Chief Ambulance Officer complete the structure of the service.
Advanced Paramedic training is available by closed competition to Paramedics who
have 3 years post qualification experience. Advanced Paramedic training is a further 11
months training followed by a one year clinical internship and will allow the use of a
larger range of advanced interventions and medications.
ADVICE ON BECOMING A PARAMEDIC: Working for the National Ambulance Service can
be a hugely rewarding, but extremely challenging, occupation. There is a strong
camaraderie among the staff and a “can do” attitude from the service. If you are a
“people person” with a strong desire to help others and with the ability to deal with the
sometimes unpleasant physical and emotional side of this profession, then this may be
the career for you.
After qualification, the salary scale for the post of PHECC Registered Paramedic is
€29’763 to €37’185 including one long service increment after 3 years as of 1st Sept
2008. This figure does not include shift, weekend and public holiday premiums which
can add between €6000 and €8000 to the yearly salary. Occasional overtime may also
increase the take home pay. The Leading Paramedic salary scale is from €30’401 to
€42’579. An additional allowance of €9’700 is paid to those who successfully complete
the Advanced Paramedic training programme.
For further information:

One Response to “Paramedics”

  1. Ciaran Lyons said

    I am really interested in becoming a perimedic

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